4 out of 10 for the UK's premier swimming arenas

on Saturday, 22 August 2020.

www.linkedin.com - Diccon Loy

Whilst it is well known that Sydney, Australia has more Olympic-sized pools than the whole of the UK, at least we have 10 FINA standard, 10-lane 50m pools. However, almost a month after being given permission to reopen, just 4 of these major swimming arenas are open.

The UK's best pools have hosted Olympics, Commonwealth Games and European Championships. These venues are the Old Trafford's, Anfield's and Wembley's of our sport. In how many other sports can you say that you've actually competed in the same arena as legends of the sport?

The 10-lane, 50m standard was adopted by FINA in 2009. Put simply, 10-lane pools are faster than 8-lane pools due to the reduction of wash, giving elite swimmers a smoother ride. Some of the UK's 10-lane 50m pools pre-date this specification. Ponds Forge, Sheffield opened in 1991 and was the centre-piece for the World Student Games (Summer Universiade 1991). Ponds Forge has been a prominent pool in British Swimming ever since hosting hundreds of national and international competitions .  News broke late last week that Ponds Forge will remain closed 'indefinitely'. The reason cited was due to lost revenue from events, conferences and banquets, rendering the venue uneconomic to re-open. This shows how fragile the business of swimming is, that some sports venues are reliant on weddings and banquets to be viable.

In addition to Ponds Forge the following major swimming arenas remain closed:

Glasgow Tollcross (home of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games) due to open 28 September 2020

Sunderland Aquatics Centre - closed until Nov 2020

Hengrove Leisure Centre, Bristol - closed

Life Centre, Plymouth (The pool that Tom Daley trained at as a child) - closed until April 2021

Aberdeen Sport Village - Closed

The protracted closure of the UK's best swimming venues also impacts diving. Many of the larger pools also have diving pools, meaning that currently just 8 out of 25 diving clubs in the UK have access to water. We can legitimately expect this situation to affect Team GB's long term medal hopes.

Many have posed the question of when the UK Government will specifically support the sport of swimming. If eat out to help out can help the hospitality sector, then what about 'workout to help out'? However, the UK's pools, including our world class swimming arenas, may need more than just a few discount vouchers to survive. Our pools will need local and national Government support, but they will also need the support of the UK public. When your local pool reopens, please be sure to support it. Support can be by renewing your membership, taking out a new one or simply supporting the pool and the sport of swimming on social media.

#SaveLeisure #OpenOurPools #Swimming

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